For some, the land of nod is an elusive place. Forever promised and rarely delivered, even the thought of attempting sleep can induce panic amongst the seasonally unrested. While others are blessed with the gift of easy slumber (falling asleep at the mere mention of a pillow) those who suffer from an inability to drift-off, can experience serious consequences in the long run.
With almost half of us averaging well under six hours every night – a far cry from the recommended seven to eight, sleeping disorders and other health related issues are becoming a global issue.
Whilst quick fix solutions may provide an immediate result, these surprising tips and tricks from sleep specialists provide effective, and practical ways to fall asleep fast.
1. Do away with heaters and try a hot water bottle instead.
When we sleep our bodies start to shut down, slowly turning off unnecessary parts, preparing to enter into our very own ‘rest mode’.
When that happens, our core temperature drops. Helping the process along by forgoing artificial temperature control and replacing your heater with a water bottle, will speed up the natural progression – bringing you even closer to your dreams.
Place the bottle close to your feet, where the heat will dilate the blood vessels in your limbs, helping to redistribute heat throughout your body.
Experts say an ideal temperature for sleep is around 18 degrees and while that may seem too cold, think about the joy you get from cuddling up under warm blankets – you never want to leave right?
2. Welcome the darkness and switch off
The bedroom should be a technology-free space where darkness governs the night and sunlight, the day. This should be a no-artificial-light zone.
Melatonin, the hormone that is secreted to help us sleep, can only be produced under the cover of darkness. Natural, or artificial light can impede its production and act to increase time spent awake.
Try repositioning mobiles, tablets and even alarm clocks away form your bedside table to eliminate any temptation or interruption during the night.
3. Blow bubbles
Yes just like the ones we had when we were kids, blowing bubbles can actually assist the mind in shutting off and transitioning to sleep-time.
This childlike end to an evening acts as a deep breathing exercise, helping to relax your body as well as take your mind off any potentially worrying thoughts.
4. Distract yourself
Worrying about the day’s events or those to come can play a significant role in tearing us away from much needed sleep. When we toss and turn, the stress it induces releases adrenaline – the natural enemy of sleep and relaxation.
Distracting yourself by reading a good book can be the perfect solution to turning off your thoughts.
Hypnotism works too. Try imaging yourself doing monotonous things like shooting 50 free-throws or putting 30 candles on a cake. This type of visualisation reduces anxiety and stress and lets the sleep mechanisms in your brain begin to work.
5. Tune out
According to experts, listening to calming music can not only assist in falling asleep, but help you stay asleep for longer.
Try creating a playlist of your favourite down-tempo tunes or listen to recordings of natural surroundings – like rain or waves crashing on the shore.
This will help to lower your blood pressure and your heart rate, all whilst lulling you off to sleep faster.
6. Exercise in the evening
In a recent study by Swiss scientists, completing an intense workout just 90 minutes before bed, has been found to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increase our likelihood to fall asleep faster.
7. Write it down
As soon as our head hits the pillow the worries tend to come flying in thick and fast. A way to combat this, as simple as it sounds, is to get it out of our minds and onto paper.
Writing a list of tasks for tomorrow, or even writing down what is worrying you, can have dramatic effects on our levels of emotional detachment. By just jotting down the thought-process that is holding you back or dominating your consciousness, the stresses of the day seem to fade away.
Lists help to regulate and provide a stress-free day ahead as well, setting you up to finish the next day on a positive note.
Want more ideas?
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